The Dish That Started it All

Do not get it twisted... I don't create these dishes, I research (steal) recipes from multiple websites and through trail & error decide what are the best variations.  Sometimes the most insufferable websites / blogs are those hosted by major TV networks and professional cooks claiming to be making traditional/authentic versions of (insert ethnicity or region) cuisine.  To be clear I don't care what is traditional, I only care what tastes good and so should you.  In college I became aware of a blog written by an amateur housewife with a guide to cook any type of dish while staying on a blue collar budget.  Even though I was never a fan of the blog, I always had one recipe bookmarked not to make it the way she did but to make it better.  And this is my first attempt at making it...

Pasta Puttanesca

 Making your own red sauce (using jarred/canned sauce is an original sin) and boiling pasta can be overdone and boring after a while.  Every so often shaking it up and trying something different but still Italian can be refreshing.  Here are the dago-onit ingredients:

  • Fresh pasta (1 lb.)
  • Bacon (4 strips)
  • Red onion (medium sized / baseball size)
  • Cherry tomatoes (1 pint)
  • Low sodium chicken broth (1 cup)
  • Greek olives (12-20), these are marinaded in chilis
  • Anchovies in oil (3-4)
  • Garlic (3 cloves), could've used less here
  • Basil (1 package/bunch)
  • Pecorino Romano cheese (1/4 lb. crumbled)

Not Shown:

  • White wine (1/2 cup)

Place the bacon in a cold pan, bring up to a medium heat and cook the bacon until crisp.  We are not going to add the bacon back into the dish (don't let me stop you if you want to add it in at the very end) so don't worry about under or over cooking it.  The leftover fat will be our 'cooking oil' and give us a little bacon flavor without tasting too much like bacon.

Add the onions into the hot bacon fat and cook medium-high heat.  Sprinkle in a pinch of salt as this will help cook the water out of the onions.

Don't be afraid to let the onions get a little brown and burnt by the edges.

Once the onions are slightly translucent, about 5-10 minutes, add the tomatoes.  You can add another pinch of salt and crank the temperature slightly higher (medium-higher).  Since the tomatoes are full of water it is unlikely you will burn anything in the pan as long as you don't cook off that liquid.  Stir occasionally and watch the tomatoes break open, if you get impatient use the back of a spoon to break open the tomatoes.  While this cooks down, we can start to prep the rest of the ingredients:

Chop the olives, garlic and anchovies together into a coarse paste.  What the fuck is a coarse paste you ask?

This is what I am calling a coarse paste.

Our tomato and onion mixture is starting to cook down after about 10 minutes.  Once all the tomatoes are broken open and the liquid inside of them has evaporated you can add the other liquids.

At this point you should set a pot of water on the stove at the highest setting possible.

Add the white wine, turn the heat up to high and cook down until about half the liquid is gone.  Once you feel that the wine has cooked down (this isn't an exact science), add the chicken broth and turn the heat back down to medium and let simmer.

The tomatoes & onion mixture I made was prettay prettay thick (my preference wink wink), if you want to make it thinner you can add more chicken broth.  Add in the olive mixture and incorporate into the sauce.

Let stand on the medium heat for a few minutes and taste.  This is where you can add in salt and pepper to your liking.  I added nothing since the olives were both full of salt and chili peppers, if you like it spicier or saltier do your damn thang and add how ever much you want.  TASTE FIRST.  Don't forget you can always add more but you can't take back what you add.  

Side note - my personal dream is a (community) college kid will have a quote of mine in vinyl lettering on his shitty dorm room wall.

Turn the heat off and let stand, add the crumbled cheese (any hard cheese works) and mix into the sauce.  Note, we don't need to use the burners on the stove any longer, however the stove is still hot (especially if you use gas) so use this to keep your sauce hot for a brief period of time.

The water we set on the stove should now be boiling, add a palm-full of salt (1-2 tablespoons) and place your pasta into the water.  I have been using fresh pasta lately instead of your more prevalent dry pasta.  The cost is about double to go fresh which sucks, but if you don't eat pasta that often it is absolutely worth the price.

Regardless on which type of pasta you use, drain the pasta and place directly into the sauce.  Don't let the pasta cool down and certainly don't worry about a little extra moisture left on the noodle.  

To cut up your basil like above take the leaves and stack into a pile on your cutting board.  Roll them into a joint like tube (I do not condone smoking this) and begin to slice from one end to the other.  Keep one hand firmly on the roll of basil leaves to prevent it from unraveling.

 If you read that and still have no idea what I am talking about, the limiest cunt in the game can better teach you how to chop herbs:

Lastly, if I were to remake this again I would probably include less garlic and add capers (which is a traditional ingredient).